The Augustana College football experience has taken former Rochelle standout Matt Albers to many different places around the region. This summer, Albers and his Viking teammates traveled across the pond, spending eight days in Ireland and facing off against the Belfast Trojans, an amateur football club and one of the top football teams in the Irish American Football League.
“Everybody was able to get meaningful reps at their respective positions,” Albers said. “Overall, between the sightseeing and quality time with the guys and their parents, it was an experience that I won’t ever forget.”
Albers and his teammates are stateside now, and the Vikings are gearing up for the 2019 season, which begins on Saturday, Sept. 7 against Coe College. Albers has spent two seasons with the Vikings, totaling six tackles including four solo and two assists for Augustana on special teams during the 2018 campaign. He totaled a season-high three tackles against Coe College.
“My second season showed a lot of improvement and experience on the field,” Albers said. “Even though our record didn’t show how hard my teammates and I worked, we still managed to be in every game… I’ve gotten reps in every phase of special teams and I hope to become one of the leaders on our team this year. This has been a great year and we have a lot of experienced players coming back.”
Albers played an integral role on the kickoff coverage team that ranked No. 1 in Division III this past season. The former All-Conference high school running back will seek to take advantage of working with new running backs coach Keegan Jones, who Albers said has been instrumental in helping he and many other running backs improve their techniques.
“The coaching change really led to improvements throughout the whole group,” Albers said. “Coach Jones has spent a lot of time with film study to help me and the group with our footwork and where we should be looking to hit holes. One thing he and I have been working on is keeping my pad level lower.”
Albers and the Vikings will aim to improve on finishing 4-6 during 2018 and 1-9 over the 2017 campaign. Augustana will play North Central College, which now features three Rochelle football players in Eddie Villalobos, Will Jandak and James Hart, on Oct. 12. The Vikings face Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 2, when Albers will take on former Hub teammate Alex Harvey.
“One thing I have really enjoyed about the college experience is the number of guys on the team who I know I will keep in touch and be friends with,” Albers said. “Football is definitely a game where everybody cares about each other. It’s definitely a brotherhood.”